Welcome to The Miller House
Don Lehman, 2018


Cover Index
Chapter 01
Chapter 02
Chapter 03
Chapter 04
Chapter 05
Chapter 06
Chapter 07
Chapter 08
Chapter 09
Chapter 10
Chapter 11
Chapter 12
Chapter 13
Chapter 14
Chapter 15
Chapter 16
Chapter 17
Chapter 18
Chapter 19
Chapter 20
Chapter 21

Chapter Two

Francis didn’t know a lot about the deep South Carolina mountains of her adopted state of South Carolina. She had married a man named Aaron Pollone. A man she hardly knew but had fallen in love with. He was ten years her senior. She had met him in the summer of 1942, shortly after graduating high school, back in Baltimore. He was there handling some sort of import business and had mysterious financial connections. He clearly enjoyed making a show with his money and she was his pretty, young girlfriend.

As a teenager, Francis was used to making do with what her mother could afford with the meager paycheck and tips she earned, working as a waitress. Her brother, Wilson, got a job in the same restaurant clearing tables and washing dishes while still in high school. When Francis met Aaron, Wilson was already married and out of the house. It was just Francis and her mother. Francis was expected to stay home and do the housework. And work she did! She took pride in running the house. They had a simple, city row house but when her high school friends came over, she was proud of the order and cleanliness of the way she and her mother lived. She was proud because it was her job. Her mother worked long hours at the restaurant and Francis took care of everything she could do.

She was just eighteen when she met Aaron. She was having a coke with her friend, Vivian at a popular cafe near the docks on Pratt Street when he walked up and introduced himself. He was so polite and had a slight southern drawl. She smiled at him and that was his opening. When he asked for her number, she gave it to him without hesitation. When he walked away she just kept smiling, even when Vivian told her she was crazy! She said, “Francis, what if he’s a psychopath?” When he called the next day, she accepted his request for a date. Soon, he was her, out of town, boyfriend. He bought her jewelry, clothes and took her to clubs, she knew he was showing her off and she enjoyed feeling “high class.” The courtship lasted a few months and some of the time he was back in Greenville, but when he was in Baltimore they went out almost every night to the best restaurants and dance clubs. Aaron was a little rough with her when he was drinking and he did drink quite a lot when they were together, but other times he was solicitous and polite. He showed her pictures of the big victorian house he owned back in Greenville, South Carolina. Francis had never traveled. She couldn’t say no when he gave her a diamond. He wanted to get married and take her away! Her mother was not happy about the age difference and did not want Francis to leave Baltimore. Her brother, Wilson, had little to say about it. He had married young and was doing ok. He was nearby in Ellicott City working for his father-in-law, in electrical supply. For Francis, change happened pretty fast and the prospects were exciting.

He bought her a two hundred dollar wedding dress. Vivian was her maid of honor and a friend of Aaron, some guy she had never met was the best man. They were married at the courthouse on Friday, October 15th, 1942. The same day, she took a large suitcase, a box of her personal things, and said goodbye to her mother who was stoic but appeared to have tears in her eyes. It was fast and she was now Francis Pollone, off with her new husband to her big house and her new life in Greenville, a place where she had never been. On their wedding night they stayed in a motor lodge near Emporia, Virginia. The next day they drove all the way to Greenville. It was dark when they arrived but when he turned on all the lights, the house looked like a dream. It was a massive victorian with high ceilings and a modern kitchen. There was a wide front porch and a lawn with tall trees. Francis could not believe her good fortune. While her new husband was bringing things in from the car, she imagined how her life would be, in this fine house.

He left the next morning for Charleston, on business. Before he left he promised they’d take a honeymoon trip to anywhere she wanted to go, after he, “handled some deals.” She still didn’t know for sure what he did. It had something to do with importing goods. He said he would be back in three days and he gave her five, twenty dollar bills, for groceries. He told her the store was only three block away on Washington Street. Then he was gone. He looked so handsome in his suit and stetson hat. She just sat on the sofa for a long time holding onto those twenty dollar bills and tried to let it all sink in. That was before she knew she was already pregnant. She went to the kitchen and started opening draws. Everything was neatly organized. She found a pencil and pad. The refrigerator was nearly empty so she started there with her list. By the time she finished with the pantry the list filled two pages. She was hungry when she started for the store. Francis thought, I have money to buy whatever I want! She paid for the groceries and arranged to have them delivered in the afternoon. She took an orange, a Coca Cola and a bag of chips and walked back to her big fancy house.

She was napping later in the afternoon when the food and supplies arrived. She tipped the delivery man after he brought the bags in from his truck and lined then up on the kitchen counter. She opened one of the bottles milk and filled a tumbler. She drank half the bottle and started putting her purchases away. She needed to fix a real, square meal for herself! She made spaghetti. By the time she had eaten, she was ready for bed so she turned in early. She was married, she had moved over 500 miles from home, away from her mother and brother. She didn’t know anyone. She had her own big house in a strange town and her new husband gave her money and left. Those were her thoughts on the second night alone in her big, fancy Victorian house.

It was four days later and late at night when he came in through the front door with his suit case! He saw that she had worried, he put his arms around her, picked her up and spun around a few times. He said, “Baby, this war is gonna be good for us!” Francis thought it was an odd thing to say but she was relieved that he was back. She could smell alcohol on his breath and it frightened her. She was becoming aware that she had married a man she knew very little about and was living in a town where she was a stranger. When he put her down he walked into the kitchen and opened the refrigerator. She had used most of the money he had given her to stock the house of food and supplied. He took out a bottle of milk, removed the paper cap and turned it up and drank. Then he turned and looked her up and down. He said, “I missed you doll! Take your clothes off. He just leaned against to counter and looked at her. It didn’t feel right to Francis and she said, “Honey, not here in the kitchen.” But he said, yeah, right here, now! She sat down on a chair and looked away, thinking about what to do. He waited a while then walked over to her and ripped her shirt open. It surprised her and she looked up at him and that’s when he slapped her the first time. He had been a little rough at times, back in Baltimore, before they were married, grabbing her arm and pushing her but he had never slapped her like this.

After that first slap, she was guarded. He left again a few days later and was gone for most of a week. He only left twenty dollars this time and she had about a twenty left from before. She was lonely and didn’t know what to expect when he returned. He had been quite rough with her. One minute, he seemed happy and bragged about how much money he would make and how pretty she was, then his mood would change and there was nothing she could do or say that satisfied him. He brooded and complained about the food, her clothes. Their lovemaking was quick and unsatisfying. Maybe he was just feeling stress about some business deal and things would get better soon. She thought about the upcoming honeymoon he had promised. While he was gone she walked to the store and bought some magazines and paperbacks. She spent her days reading, taking short walks and wondering what her life would be like with Aaron. She mostly stayed in the house because she wanted to be there when he returned and she did not know when, day or night. She loved the big house but she was finding it lonely, especially at night. It made her feel important however, when she walked up the street and saw the old victorian house with the big front porch and the tall windows. She was a wife and this house belonged to her and her husband. It was so impressive and well preserved.

She would think about her mother’s home, the row house back in Baltimore. What would her mother think of this house in Greenville. She knew her mother did not like Aaron. Maybe her mother didn’t trust men, after all her own husband had left her with two young children and bills to pay. Francis had only seen her father once after he moved out. She was nine years old and her brother, Wilson, was thirteen when he stopped in with gifts the first Christmas after he had left. She heard him argue with her mother in the kitchen before he came back into the living room and said a final good bye to Francis and Wilson. After he left Wilson cried. It was the last time she saw her brother cry. Francis did not miss her father. She thought he was mean and she was happier when he was gone. The three of them, without the husband/father settled into a peaceful routine of work and supporting one another.

  Chapter 03